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Our December blog features Jodie Oliver-Howar, a pianist who works in London’s glittering West End. Read on to hear about Jodie’s career in theatreland.
Please get in touch if you wish to share your story ‘after Heriot’s’.
What is your current role?
I work as a Pianist – mainly in the West End, playing for rehearsals for shows, and auditions, and coaching singers/performers.
How did you get there?
Well, I had a bit of a rollercoaster! After leaving Heriot’s, I went straight to Edinburgh University to study Law. It was around the same time I joined the National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT), which ignited my passion for musical theatre! Ultimately, I had to choose between those 2 career paths. So, after 2 years, I ended up changing my degree to Music. After graduating with a BMus(Hons), I won a scholarship for Mountview in London to be the first student of Musical Directing on their new Postgraduate course. So off I went to London…and the rest is history!
What are your notable achievements?
Professionally, I would say I am most proud of getting to work on some top West-End shows (the one I have spent the most time working on is Matilda the Musical). Personally, my biggest achievement was coping with my baby’s imminent arrival whilst my husband was onstage for the opening night of his show at the London Coliseum (they ended up stopping the show at the interval so he could get to the hospital in time for the birth!). That was a pretty stressful time!
What are your memories of Heriot’s?
Oh goodness…I have so many memories after 13 years there! If I had to choose, I would say my wonderful Primary 1 and 2 teacher, Mrs Sproule, who was so encouraging, and would ask me to play piano to the rest of the class whenever I came back into the classroom after my piano lessons. Another memory I have is of all the Usher Hall Christmas concerts. We would stand in the choir stalls on stage and it all felt so magical and festive!
Tell us your two ‘takeaways’ from your Heriot’s days:
It’s going to sound clichéd, but to “distribute chearfullie”! That doesn’t have to mean money – it can mean giving your time, your help, your thoughts…basically to be as kind as you can in whatever way you can. Secondly, that some of your school friends will end up being your friends for life! One minute you’ll be discussing what homework you’ve got for Biology…and the next you’ll be at each other’s weddings!
Any top tips for current pupils when planning their future?
Don’t feel pressurised into making decisions for your future straight away. You don’t always know what you want to do when you leave school…but go and explore! You need to discover what your true passion is, and you might not know for a few years yet…and that’s ok! University was a great way for me to discover my pathway, even though I changed course halfway, because you can’t put a price on life experience. Life is too short to be unhappy!